‘Boring’ iOS 15 shows just how far iPhone has come

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‘Boring’ iOS 15 shows just how far iPhone has come
iOS 15 brings the many advantages of boredom to the iPhone.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

iOS 15 is kind of boring. It brings some welcome new features, but nothing that will change the way you use your iPhone forever.

Some people might find the lack of earth-shaking new features dull. But the bottom line is, when it comes to something as integral to our daily lives as the way you interact with your iPhone, “boring” is shorthand for “good.”

I’ve run the first iOS 15 developer beta for almost two weeks on an iPhone 12. And I keep forgetting it’s there. The new version is just not that different.

About the only time I remember I’m not using iOS 14 is when I pull up Safari. On iPhone, Apple moved the browser’s Address Bar from the top of the screen to the bottom. And, as far as day-to-day use goes, that’s one of the major changes in the upcoming version.

iOS 15: Boring is good

This isn’t criticism. Apple didn’t need to make ground-breaking changes to the iPhone operating system because the earlier versions weren’t broken.

Apple already added the features needed to make the iPhone an amazing handset. And these are well organized and easy to use. (That’s why Screen Time tells me I’m on my handset an average of 3 hours a day.) No dramatic changes are need for texting, email, social networking, ebooks, etc. And if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The opposite of boredom is frustration

It wasn’t always like this. Long-time iPhone users can remember the early days when a new iOS version was huge deal. People were thrilled when one came out. Because each one fixed gaping limitations.

Before iOS 2 there was no App Store. And before iOS 3, there was no support for cut, copy and paste. iOS 4 introduced multitasking and spell check.

Of course we were excited about these releases — they ushered in long-awaited new features. When successive iOS updates removed the remaining frustrating limitation, we could celebrate because we didn’t have to put up with them any more.

But now the days when iPhone was missing critically needed features are over. The pain points are gone. So iOS 15 is… boring. I prefer boredom to frustration.

But there are improvements in iOS 15

I don’t mean to shortchange iOS 15. It really has some nice enhancements. They just aren’t as important as, say, the arrival of Siri in iOS 5.

Those struggling with their work/life balance can appreciate Focus. It lets you easily control in what ways you’ll be interrupted while working, eating, sleeping, watching a movie, etc. You can set it to muffle Facebook notifications while at work, for example, or hide texts from coworkers on weekends.

I’ve used some of the iOS 15 FaceTime improvements in several video calls, and I’m a fan of the addition of Portrait mode — blurring the background behind me. The app also lets you share a movie or listen to a song with friends in a call.

The new look to Apple Maps is nice, though I don’t live in one of the handful of cities that got incredibly detailed views. I’m hoping this happens to my area soon, though.

Drag and drop between apps is useful. It’s a quicker and simpler way to move text, images and files between applications, even if they aren‘t on the screen at the same time.

And Live Text is just amazing. I already used my handset’s camera to pull the words out of written notes and signs.

Earlier, I didn’t mean to put down the way Apple rearranged Safari on iPhone. I like the change — it’s much easier to reach the Address Bar at the bottom of the display with my thumb. Putting critical controls at the top of a Mac screen makes sense, but not on iPhone.

But even with these improvements, iOS 15 is kind of boring. And that’s a good thing.